91-yr-old Jacobite woman buried after 38 days in Kerala, now Orthodox want exhumation

Over 50 people, who breached security and entered the church to bury the body, have been booked by the police.
91-yr-old Jacobite woman buried after 38 days in Kerala, now Orthodox want exhumation
91-yr-old Jacobite woman buried after 38 days in Kerala, now Orthodox want exhumation
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It looks like the feud between the Orthodox and Jacobite faction of the Kerala Malankara church is unlikely to die down anytime soon. Each time a new fight for ‘power grab’ between the two Christian sects erupts, it takes a new low.

The latest instance is being reported from Kattachira village in Alappuzha district. The body of a 91-year-old woman was caught in the tussle between the two factions. The woman, who belongs to the Jacobite faction, was buried at St Mary’s Church Kattachira on Friday morning, 38 days after her death. The opposing Orthodox faction took no time to protest the burial, and even demanded that her body be exhumed.

Mariamma Rajan passed away on October 28. The burial of her body was, however, delayed, as the Orthodox faction disapproved of a Jacobite priest conducting the funeral service. Mariamma’s family also reportedly insisted that only a Jacobite priest would conduct the final rites. Thus, the burial was delayed by six weeks.

Although this dispute between the two factions is decades old, in July 2017, the Supreme Court gave the Orthodox faction the legal authority to administer 1,100 churches and parishes under the Malankara Church. With this ruling by the court, the Orthodox faction started taking over the administration of Jacobite churches, much to the chagrin of the Jacobite faction.

The St Mary’s church in Kattachira was closed for a few months after clashes between the factions over its ownership. In July this year, amidst police protection, the church was handed over to the Orthodox sect based on the Supreme Court order.

Because of the delay in the burial at the church cemetery, Mariamma’s body was kept in a mortuary for the last 38 days. With no respite, the family finally decided to enter the church in the wee hours of Friday.

According to the CCTV footage from the church, around 5.48 am, a group of men and women reached the church. After some discussion near the gate with the police officials who were standing guard in front of the church, the men and women forced opened the gate and marched in.  

The group then buried Mariamma.

However, upon learning about the development, the Orthodox faction took to the streets to protest the move by the Jacobite faction.

Meanwhile, the Kurathikadu police in Mavelikkara have registered an FIR in the case and booked around 60 people, who breached the security, broke open the lock and entered the church. They have been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code for trespassing and rioting.

The dispute between the two factions has been so intense that the burial of many church believers have been delayed for weeks and months.


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